Salesians of Don Bosco in the African Great Lakes Province which covers Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda have intervened with various initiatives aiming to comfort local communities and young people after COVID 19 disrupted the normal life in this region.
Over the course of almost five months, Covid-19 has gone from being a Chinese national problem to a pandemic involving the whole world.
While the contagion has spread day by day in new regions and countries, Salesians in the whole world including the AGL province have launched emergency responses on the request of the Rector Major Fr Ángel Fernández Artime during a video conference in which Salesians representatives and lay people, from all the Regions of the Congregation attended.
In AGL Province, starting with Rwanda, Salesians have donated food to needy people in all centres which are located in the Southern Province as well as in the City of Kigali.
They donated to needy families, Salesian collaborators in all centres, young people who regularly attend oratory activities, Christians from Salesian parishes and non-Salesian parishes, motorcyclists and bicycle riders who were facing food shortage due the closure of their operations as part of the country’s lockdown period to avoid the risks of spreading the Virus.
Salesians also have used the benefactors support to aid Trainers/teachers in the Salesian Schools after their salaries were temporarily suspended due to the closure of all schools as a Government directive on controlling the spread of COVID 19.
The Provincial House has tightened measures to avoid possible virus contamination since many people come at the provincial compound for daily activities.
All employees in the province have to abide with all measures in place which includes regular check up of body temperature, regular handwashing, use of hand sanitizer as well as following all measures as provided by the regional Governments.
The same activities were conducted in our centres in Uganda with the Salesian mission in Palabek refugee camp for instance successfully prepared sanitization materials and distributed cans, sanitizing spirits, soaps, face masks etc, …to various beneficiaries including the Army staff, police, camp authorities, market and nursery schools.
Salesians in Uganda delivered food stuff to needy people and vulnerable groups among them are street children who have been heavily affected by the lockdown since they had none to beg as all people had to stay at home.
Don Bosco Centres in Uganda were armed with hygiene and sanitation equipment, water installation to help those coming for aids to first wash hands with clean water and soaps as directed by authorities.
Despite the magnitudes and the stumped global situation caused by Corona Virus, in Burundi, during the fresh moment of the virus, the country’s administration gave less value to the magnitudes of the deadly virus.
However, with the Salesian provincial directives and emergency situation, the congregation in Burundi had to take the issue seriously.
Starting with sensitization campaign to food aid, Salesian in Burundi had kept an open eye on the developing situation until some COVID 19 cases were recorded leading to the total closure of Burundi boarders as well as suspension of International movement.
Within the pandemic time, Burundi’s population were suffering from hunger as well as from the effects of heavy rain that destroyed homes, properties and crops.
Apart from sensitization campaign via possible means, the Salesian congregation in Burundi distributed foods and hygiene materials to the most vulnerable.
Also, water tanks were installed in both Salesian centres and public centres as part of measures put in place to deal with the spread of Corona Virus in Burundi.
The AGL Province also continues the COVID 19 community sensitization campaigns by encouraging all communities to abide with the guidelines from Government and World Health Organization as the pandemic is seriously affecting all living aspects of our respective countries.
The campaign was conducted via songs, distributions of leaflets containing the message on COVID 19, online communications, use of websites, social media messages among other means.
Communities mobilization targets handwashing with soap and avoiding unnecessary movement, practicing social distancing among others.
During this time of the pandemic, young people from Salesian Schools like IFAK in Rwanda have been able to continue their studies at home, thanks to the the technical team which has put more efforts in bringing the E-learning initiatives during the pandemic time.
The last but not the least, the Provincial administration have organized various sessions to occupy Salesian Confreres who are pursuing philosophy studies at GRAND Seminary of Kabgayi during the time they had to stay enclosed in the centre to abide with Lockdown measures which are still imposed for the Education institutions.
The Provincial social communication had trained them on modern communication and content development as well as the identification of which communication tools that can be used to reach young people in two days modernity which is also Challenging.
In any case, the fight is not over. Very recently, the provincial Economer who is also the Director of the Planning and Development Office thanked all the benefactors who give to the Salesians in fact that they also give to the poor, but he stressed that there are many who are waiting for that helping hand.
Via his twitter account, Brother Hubert Twagirayezu said “Don Bosco Province Rwanda-Burundi and Uganda would like to thank all those donors who supported our people, families, and we managed to provide some foods and hygienic materials to many people during the lock down.”
In the same line Brother Hubert Twagirayezu added “We need more supports.”
DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire